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What To Do If Your Dog Gets Lost — An Informative Podcast Courtesy of “The Great Dog Adventure”

 

What To Do If Your Dog Gets Lost - Link to Podcast

ATTENTION DOG LOVERS! “The Great Dog Adventure” is a great site for you with lots of useful and entertaining information and outstanding weekly podcasts. A recent one featured Pet FBI’s founder and Director, Maresa Fanelli. She shares lots of helpful tips and tricks, strategies and skills developed over our 17 years of helping people recover lost pets of all kinds. This podcast interview focuses on recovering lost dogs.

Shelter Statistics or Why the Odds of Finding Your Lost Pet at a Shelter are Against You

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: Most lost pets are reunited through a shelter.

REALITY CHECK: Relatively few strays are reclaimed before being euthanized or adopted out to others.

What is the recovery rate for stray dogs in shelters?Dog in Shelter

According to the ASPCA “About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners. [2/3 vs. 1/3]” But only 17-30% of dogs are ever reclaimed by their owner. (See the ASPCA’s page on Shelter Statistics https://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics)

 

What is the recovery rate for stray cats in shelters?cats in shelter

For cats the stats are truly appalling – only 2 – 5% of cats ever get reclaimed.

(See The Humane Society of the United States site: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html ) In major metropolitan areas like Columbus, OH, for example, the numbers may even be worse. Of the 6,000+ cats taken in by Franklin County’s only open admission shelter in calendar year 2014, only 27 were successfully reunited and half of those only because they had a microchip.

Why is the recovery rate so low?

Given the odds against people getting to the shelter during that very small window of time when their pet might still be there, it is little wonder that the recovery rate is so low. Dogs have a better chance because they get picked up sooner and most states have laws requiring a minimum holding period for dogs. It may only be a few days or weeks for dogs, but in most states there is no mandated holding period for cats. In “kitten season” it is not unusual for a cat turned in to a shelter to be euthanized the same day. There is simply no holding space in adoption wards already full of more adoptable kittens.

What can be done to help people recover their lost pets in shelters?

If there were a generally accepted protocol for shelters of posting all strays to a public database it would save a lot of lives. This would spare people the trouble of having to get to one or more shelters almost every day when often the shelters are located on the other side of town and are only open at certain hours. Many sensitive people dread going to shelters and having to look at all those little faces knowing many if them are doomed.

Why Don’t Shelters Post Their Lost Pet Intakes?

Few shelters take advantage of available recent technology to post their intakes. Some shelter management software products have a module that facilitates posting lost pet intakes to the net, but they are usually very expensive and far out of reach for private humane societies. Fortunately, there are some free public databases that any shelter could use, including PetFBI.org. Which is strictly non-commercial and absolutely free, but there is a reluctance on the part of shelters to post stray intakes. The reason given is that they don’t want to invite “shopping”. Apparently there are people with dishonest motives who will claim a purebred dog, for example, with the intention of re-selling it. Or they will claim a breed of dog perceived as a “fighting” breed with the intention of fighting it. (Dog fighting is a cruel “sport” that is much more widespread than imagined.) But I find it hard to accept this reason as an obstacle to not posting strays. Surely, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks and people who claim an impounded animal have to pay a redemption fee. It is unlikely the same person would claim a pet fraudulently more than once.

How would posting lost pets to a public database help shelters?

A necessary condition of course would be that people know they can look online without having to call or come to the shelter. It would still be necessary to come in whenever there is a likely match, but people would be less likely to give up too soon. This would also ease things for shelters. If more of their “stray” intakes were reclaimed, it would lower their euthanasia rate, increase their adoption rate, and save them the trouble of dealing with repeated phone calls and visitors needing to go through the holding areas. Of course, there will always be some cases where it is absolutely necessary to go to the shelter (s). Many lost pets look so much alike.

Why Is There No Single Central Database?

Just as there is a national database for stolen cars, ideally, there would be one central database for lost and found pets. But realistically, this will never happen. There are multiple lost and found pet sites and most of them are for profit. Some offer useful contact services, like postcard mailings to many neighbors. Others offer services of dubious value like robo-calling or contacting shelters (You need to GO there in person!). Unfortunately a number of the online lost and found pet services are really just out to make a quick buck by exploiting people’s desperation. (This is possibly another factor why shelters are wary of online lost and found pet databases.)

What is a good resource for people who have lost or found a pet and for shelters? In 1998, Pet FBI was set up as a public database for individuals and shelters to use. Over the past 17 years it has evolved into the best designed and easiest to use public database online, strictly non-commercial and free. Pet families and Good Samaritans can readily connect before the stray needs to be turned into the shelter. There are many people who are hesitant to take a stray to the shelter because of the risks for the animal. Yet, the shelter is the obvious place a pet owner would look for their lost pet so shelters should have someone dedicated to searching reports of lost pets online. There are numerous sources of information besides the various databases. There are Facebook pages, Craigslist and newspaper classifieds. Even Twitter and Instagram are possible sources of information. Unfortunately, with the current state of affairs, anyone who has lost or found a pet needs to turn over many stones.

However, our experience with Pet FBI has shown that by achieving a critical mass of users reunion rates in excess of 35% for cats and 50% for dogs can be achieved. This is our documented success rate in Ohio where we have been helping people recover lost pets since 1998. In May of 2014 we overhauled the Pet FBI web site and database to service the entire United States and Puerto Rico. Already we have the largest database of lost and found pets anywhere online. (Just do a random comparative search!) Our national success rate is about 20% and growing steadily. In addition to the database we have comprehensive advice and contact information for other reliable resources. There is a great new feature: Once you post a report you will automatically be notified of any new potentially matching reports for 90 days. This system of automatic alerts is unique to Pet FBI.

Please help us save lives and by urging your local shelter to take advantage of this free resource. If they don’t want to use the Pet FBI database to post intakes, they should at least refer individuals to it.

More users = more happy reunions!

BIG NEWS! Pet FBI Lost and Found Pet Database Enhancement

AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM PET FBI’s DIRECTOR:
Starting today, August 5, we are instituting a huge new time-saving feature for our database users. We are confident this enhancement will result in many more reunions. From now on, when you submit a lost or found pet report to the Pet FBI database, you will automatically receive information on any new potentially matching reports.

Here’s how it works: Suppose you submit a lost cat report. If a “found cat report” is submitted with a zip code within 100 miles of the zip you used in your report, you will be notified. New Report Alerts will be emailed daily, unless there is nothing new, and they will continue for 90 days from the day you submit your report or until you “unsubscribe”. Here’s a sample:

Found Dogs for 7/29/2015 within 100 miles of Zip Code 43002

Sample New Report Alert

The new reports will not be filtered by sex or color since people so often make mistakes about these characteristics. So you may get some extra information but that is better than missing that one critical report because someone thought your neutered male cat was a female. In any case, the New Report Alerts will be easy to skim and you will be saved the bother of having to do a manual search every day to see if there is anything new.

It will still be possible of course to do a manual search. If your report has not resulted in a reunion after 90 days, you can continue to look and even extend the search radius to 250 miles.

We would love to hear back from you if you have any suggestions about the New Report Alert or about anything else on Pet FBI.
Thanks to Glen, our ace volunteer database programmer who put a lot of work and thought into this!
With best wishes for a happy reunion,
Maresa, Pet FBI Director/Volunteer

Pet FBI Interviewed on Animal Radio

Our Interview on Animal Radio

Our interview with Animal Radio aired July 3 and 4th  on their 150 syndicated stations all around the country. Here is how you can listen to it:

animal radio
Click this Animal Radio  link. In the upper right hand corner of the Animal Radio home page there is a black box. Our segment runs from about minutes 27:30 through about 34:00. Click the play arrow and scroll to our segment.
It will be on the home page the whole week of July 4 and after that it will be archived as show #813.
The show has a very lively format, a mix of the serious, the comic and the unusual, including a segment on a two year old tabby that survived for two months trapped in a futon that was being shipped from Texas to Alaska for some military family. They had postponed their own departure for three days to look for the cat! You can always listen to their programs by using the archive.

Facebook/PetFBI.org Ohio Reaches 20,000 Likes!

Thanks and kudos to our volunteer Facebook administrator, Char Riedinger! Her absolute, unwavering dedication has resulted in an average of 50 reunions per month just in Ohio. Char has set very high standards resulting in a very high success rate. By insisting on full, actionable information for posts to our timeline she has helped reunite lost pets with their families quickly and efficiently.

The full information on our Facebook posts also enables our followers to cross check other sources and find matching lost and found reports. We thank those devoted followers for being part of this great success.

Char also messages posters directly with specific advice and compassionate encouragement. Such personal attention is rare among the numerous well-intentioned but often ill-conceived lost and found pet sites. Thanks to Char and the thousands of Facebook friends she has inspired, many more pets are back home with their families.

Pet FBI featured on NBC

On May 21 Candice Lee of Columbus Ohio’s NBC4 did a segment on our organization
and how we helped a Dublin Ohio family recover their cat, Leonardo diCatrio. Leo wandered off when the husband let him out at night – contrary to habit – while his wife was in Naples Florida for a few days. We were thrilled with the story and the exposure because the more people who know and use the Pet FBI lost and found pet database (which is national) and the Pet FBI Facebook page (which is for Ohio) – the better the chances of losers and finders connecting with each other and the more happy reunions.

We were delighted when other NBC stations in Mobile, Alabama, Texas, Chicago, New York and Florida, picked up the Pet FBI segment and ran it locally. Since we only went national about a year ago, we need to achieve a critical mass of users outside of Ohio to achieve a similar high level of success. More users = more recoveries. Unfortunately, at some point one of the stations confused the facts and started referring to our founder who was interviewed as “Florida’s Ace Ventura”! (Actually we are based in Columbus, Ohio and Leo went missing in Columbus while his Mom was away in Florida!)

But there is another impression we need to correct. We have been striving since 1998 to make the Pet FBI web site the most comprehensive source of information about lost and found pets. If a search of the lost and found reports at PetFBI.org doesn’t yield a match, you must not stop there! We offer a step-by-step action plan; we inform people about how to identify important contacts like shelters and animal control, We give tips on how to lure a cat back home, or how to approach a stray dog, we provide a template for an effective flyer, and

    we stress that you have to pursue all sources of information,

including other web sites, Craigslist, newspaper classifieds, and various lost and found Facebook pages, including our own.

We are fortunate in having a truly dedicated Ohio Facebook administrator who has won a following of about 19,000 friends. It is true that there is an unofficial network of Pet FBI Ohio Facebook followers who try to help posters by “connecting the dots” (looking at all the various sources of information) but we do not want to give the impression that all you have to do if you lose a pet is post on PetFBI.org or Facebook/PetFBI Ohio and then sit back and wait. Pet FBI strives to provide all the necessary tools for people who lose a pet or find a stray, but it is up to those people to make use of the tools.

We often discover that people will post a lost dog report, for example, but then they neglect to search the found dog reports. Or they stop there and don’t follow the action plan. Sometimes people send us a message “Let me know when you find my cat”! Sorry, it doesn’t work that way! Please, if you have lost or found a pet, take advantage of all the tools we offer and most important, do not give up too soon! Keep checking the database, keep going back to the shelters, renew the flyers and seek out all sources of information.

We are happy to report that in Ohio – where we are best known – the reported recovery rate for cats so far this year (May, 2015) is 54% and for dogs 33%. And it is probable that the rate is even higher because people forget to update their reports once they achieve a happy reunion. SO DO NOT GIVE UP!